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L.A. screenwriter David Sumner relocates with his wife to her hometown in the deep South. There, while tensions build between them, a brewing conflict with locals becomes a threat to them both.
This is one of those remakes that feels like the product of lazy thinking.
Never seen the original, but I would imagine it's exactly the same, itfeels very 70ish even though it takes place in current time, thatdidn't really become clear until one of the guys started taking aboutHorrormovies mentioning Saw and others though, yeah I don't know whyJames Marsden got them old ass Harry Potterlooking glasses on and thatwhite-boy fro. Kate Bosworth who I usually really like was just bland and boring inthis one, and skinny, boy was she skinny. Alexander SkarsgÃ¥rd as a southerner meh it doesn't work, he can't fakean American accent worth crap, and I'm Swedish myself so perhaps that'swhy I get a little easy-annoyed over stuff like that. Yeah he doesn'tfeel like one of the boys. James Woods, boring oldster man what to say he's old and boring in thismovie. Dominic Purcell from Prison Break plays a retard hunk whom the youngladies all do adore, uhm at first I wondered why the heck they pickedhim to play a retard but I guess it made sense if the girls were gonnaswoon over a retard that he'd be good-looking, and at least he isconvincing as being good-looking. It's just a slow movie no real thrills either, picked up in the last 30minutes but the first 1 hour and 10 minutes were just rather boring.
It would appear that in the 21st century, everything old is new again.And perhaps nowhere is that more true than in Hollywood. Whether it isin remakes or sequels, Hollywood has this way of repeating itself. As aresult, it seems most unsettling that one of the films from the pastthat should be remade for a 21st century audience would be a film that,when released near the end of 1971, caused extreme uproar because ofits explicit violence and sexual material. The film in question isdirector Sam Peckinpah's controversial shocker STRAW DOGS, whichremains, alongside Stanley Kubrick's A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, among the mosthotly debated films of its time or any time in history. For whateverreason, though, Hollywood thought it needed an updating, and so formerfilm critic turned director/screenwriter Rod Lurie stepped into theshoes of "Bloody Sam" to do it.Following both the film's original source material (Gordon M. Williams'1969 novel "The Siege Of Trencher's Farm") and the 1971 screenplaywritten by David Zelag Goodman and Peckinpah, this particular versionwas moved from the original's setting on the Cornwall coast of Englandto a backwater town somewhere along the Mississippi/Louisiana border.James Marsden takes on the role of David Sumner (played by DustinHoffman in 1971), who has come to this small Southern town with hiswife Amy (Kate Bosworth, taking over for Susan George) to work on amovie screenplay based on the 1943 battle of Stalingrad. And as it sohappens, his seeming demure nature puts the redneck boys down there inthe position of superiority over him, first when Bosworth's pet cat isfound strangled in the closet, then, to make matters even moresinister, when Bosworth is raped by her former boyfriend (AlexanderSkarsgard) and another man (Rhys Coiro).Marsden, however, comes to his senses when he takes in the local mentalinvalid (Dominic Purcell) who has unintentionally strangled thedaughter (Willa Holland) of the town's ex-football coach (James Woods).Woods, Coiro, and Skarsgard show up on Marsden's property and brutallydemand that Purcell be handed over to them, but Marsden, knowing fullywell what will happen to him, Purcell, and Bosworth, does no suchthing. The end result is ultra-violent mayhem in the film's last twentyminutes.Lurie, who made two of the best films of the year 2000 (DETERRENCE; THECONTENDER) likely set himself up for a fall in trying to tone down themost objectionable parts of the Peckinpah original that made it, in theeyes of some, a "fascist" work of art: the rape scene, which is a bittoo quickly done and a bit too aimed to show Bosworth as a feminist,though she is every bit as traumatized as George was in the original;and unwisely discounting the idea posited by Peckinpah, and based onthe works of noted anthropologist Robert Ardrey, that Man's penchantfor brutality and violence, far from the common notion that they wouldgo to any means to protect their "property", is ingrained in him fromthe start. The other thing that is objectionable about this new versionof STRAW DOGS is that, unlike the English village where Peckinpah seesthe seemingly primitive villagers as every bit the match for Hoffman,the ones in this small Southern town are the unfortunate stereotypicalinbred rednecks, especially Woods, who, normally a solid actor, isallowed by Lurie to overact outrageously. And the siege, though fairlywell staged, is nevertheless so hyper-violent that the audience becomesa tad bit detached, instead of really being forced to confront theirinner demons, as Hoffman's character, and to a great extent Peckinpahhimself, did in the original film. Whereas Peckinpah was deliberatelyambiguous and thought provoking, and not just a blood-and-guts expert,Lurie makes the mistake of trying to wrap everything up in a neat,albeit very bloody package.Nevertheless, despite these flaws that keep Lurie's film from reachingthe nightmarish heights of Peckinpah's, the 2011 STRAW DOGS featuressolid enough performances from Marsden and Bosworth, who are able tocapture the psychological torment that their characters feel. They arestill in the shadow of what Hoffman and George did in 1971, but theyare able to bring a certain kind of resolve and emotional gravitas tothe situation that Lurie doesn't always provide in his direction orscript. Larry Groupe's score, though distractingly loud at times (thisin contrast to the subtlety of the original film's excellent JerryFielding score), also works in those moments where it's supposed to.The end result is, like many remakes, rather imperfect. Still, therehave been far worse remakes that Hollywood has done, and will yet do.
Lurie, like Peckinpah, is fascinated by the idea that the seemingly mild, non-confrontational pacifist may be the villain in all of this.
This movie was good. But that's all it was. I liked the whole 'crazylocals - hillbilly - cult' idea but it was quite recycled. There seemedto be two main plots when the movie only needed one. The overallmessage of the movie was a competition for superior masculinity andstanding up to the bullies. The movie also had some good death scenesand kick-ass moments but there's nothing more to say about it. I thinkthis movie is suitable for people slightly older than me (I'm 19) andpeople who favour serious movies. The acting was adequate and for thefirst movie I've seen Kate Bosworth in, I'm not impressed. The only bitI really liked was Aleksander Skarsgard's body.
Lurie's "Straw Dogs" argues we are products of our environment and learn to survive by embracing the attitudes and values around us, even when they contradict our own instincts.
This movie was an absolute disappointment. The whole time I waswondering what the movie was about and when was the plot going tounfold. I was so frustrated the whole time because things were leftunanswered. The main character, Amy, appears to be scared of her ex andhis friends, but you don't know why. She is bra-less the majority ofthe movie (might as well have been naked) and goes on a jog in shortshorts with no bra and a tight tank top. Her ex and all his friendspretty much eyef*ck her and she complains to her husband about it. Hesays maybe you should put on a bra. She replies "Are you saying I'masking for it?!" Angry, she goes upstairs, splashes water on her chest,and slowly takes off her shirt in front of the window so that her exand his friends who are working on the barn's roof will see. I did notunderstand this part. They later rape her while her husband is huntingwhich they tricked him into doing. She pretty much knew she was goingto get raped and didn't put up a fight which made me very upset. Thismovie was so depressing and disturbing. I'm not going to write thewhole plot, but just know that it is not worth watching and in myopinion the worst movie I think I've ever seen.
As a warm up for this picture, I watched the Peckinpah version justlast week, having seen it during it's initial release back in 1971 andone other time a couple of years ago. I'm generally predisposed tooriginal films and not their sequels, so my antenna was up for thispicture figuring that I would likely be disappointed on one hand, whilerealizing that films made today make the most of a grittier and moreintense style when it comes to themes of violence and revenge. I'mgoing to go out on a limb and take the minority view here (so far), asI found the picture to be a worthy remake and a compelling story init's own right.I think if you've seen the original, the comparisons will beinevitable, and virtually impossible to ignore given a screenplay thatutilizes much of the very same dialog. Moving the story from theEnglish countryside to the deep South was an interesting decision,setting up an expectation of redneck hostility against the refinedsensibilities of the Sumners (James Marsden and Kate Bosworth).Reprising the Dustin Hoffman role as David Sumner, I think Marsden dida fairly credible job, knowing that he'd be compared to an actor who'sestablished himself as one of the modern day legends.Regarding Rod Lurie's reworking of the screenplay, I think there were acouple of points to consider that distinguish the story versusPeckinpah. The first has to do with the hunting trip. When Hoffman'scharacter killed a fowl in the earlier picture, he conveyed a sense ofdisgust at the idea of killing a defenseless bird, further adding tothe image of his character with no backbone. When Marsden brings downthe deer, I had a somewhat different impression. It looked to me thatthis was a moment when his character realized that he was capable ofkilling, an inkling that the mayhem soon to follow would not be anentirely foreign concept.Another more compelling treatment of the rewrite had to do with AmySumner. Peckinpah created a distinct ambiguity in the rape scene withhis original screenplay. Susan George was torn between revulsion andhorror against her assailants, and a questionable identification withher one time boyfriend Charlie. One could almost say that she wentalong with Charlie in a convoluted payback for her husband's weaknessas a man. I didn't get the same sense with the way Bosworth handled thescene. She was entirely repulsed and humiliated, violated in a way thatleft her totally defeated and helpless. It gave more credibility to theway she would seek her revenge when Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard) andNorman (Rhys Coiro) square off against each other during the homeinvasion.Let's face it though, the real reason to see this picture if you knowanything about the 1971 version, is the finale when David Sumnerdecides to cut loose and defend his wife and property. For some reasonI found it surprising that the rowdy hillbillies, led by Coach Heddon(James Woods), would be dispatched in the exact same manner in the verysame chronology as executed by Hoffman's character. I have to say, thenail gun on Chris was an effective improvement over a length of wire.Scalding the coach and having him shoot himself in the foot seemed alot more painful this time around when it was James Woods on thereceiving end. This time though, the old bear trap maneuver wasdistinctively more graphic and satisfying, not to mention bloody. PoorCharlie.
I never viewed the original, so for better or worse I could not use itas a measure. I came in watching the film without any knowledge of itsplot except that it was a suspenseful horror flick. What I found wasboth intriguing and disappointing. The movie brings a level of suspense and fear that so encompasses the60's/ 70's horror-torture genre. The intensity of the rape scene, whiledifficult to watch, brings a sharp level of artisanship rarely visiblyin modern day horror films. The dynamic relationship between DavidSummer and his Amy and the interloper Charles is chilling and awkwardlyamusing. Those are the pluses. Beyond that, it over and over again fails in execution. The portrayalof the townies and yuppies (red staters v. blue staters) was completelyjuvenile and even laughable which I suspect was not the intent of thedirector. Then the film ends with ... well ... a thud. The final homeinvasion, the main event, seems utterly botched. Too many minuses.
Its dripping sense of menace still feels socially relevant, not only in terms of how quiet men can only be pushed so far and how much trouble they might bring upon themselves but also by illustrating what women can wear and when.
'STRAW DOGS': Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)This remake is just a good old fashioned nasty horror film, completewith brutal violence and stereotypes galore (including exploiting thehandicap, 'Of Mice And Men' style). Rod Lurie wrote and directed thisupdated version of the popular 1971 Sam Peckinpah classic (which was inturn based on the novel 'The Siege of Trencher's Farm' by Gordon M.Williams). I never saw the original (it's one of those rare classics Inever got around to seeing but hopefully will soon) but I've heard thisnew adaptation is very faithful to it. This one stars James Marsden andKate Bosworth in the roles made famous by Dustin Hoffman and SusanGeorge. It also stars Alexander Skarsgard (of 'TRUE BLOOD' fame),Dominic Purcell (of 'PRISON BREAK' fame) and James Woods. There's muchnot to like or enjoy in this disturbing psychological thriller butthere's also a lot to find interesting and involving and the filmmakersdid a pretty good job bringing those themes to the screen. Marsden and Bosworth play David and Amy Sumner, a couple who move backto Amy's hometown in Mississippi in order to fix up a house her familyowns while David, an L.A. screenwriter, works on his writing. They hirea group of local 'rednecks', led by Amy's ex-boyfriend Charlie(Skarsgard), to fix up the barn next to their house. Cultures clashright off the bat as Charlie takes an immediate disliking to David andDavid in turn feels threatened by Charlie. Charlie and his boys harassDavid and Amy to increasingly escalating levels while David fails toreact until things, of course, eventually reach a breaking point. Thesetting was changed from England to the South for this remake andDavid's profession was altered from a mathematician to a writer. Otherthan that I've heard the film pretty much follows the same course asthe original. My interest in seeing the original film is definitely peaked now. I ama fan of Peckinpah and Hoffman and love horror films. I have found thatthe horror films released in the 70's were some of the most disturbingand raw of any decade. I've also noticed that several dealt with verydisturbing subject matter, like rape (as well as exploiting thehandicap), in very controversial ways (like the original 'STRAW DOGS','I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE' and 'LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT'). The original filmreceived a lot of negative criticism, at the time, for it's rape scenebut I've heard the new film handles the material in a much better way(I'd have to see the original film of course to state my own opinion onthe subject). The new film does depict the rape scene in a prettyunbelievable way in my opinion (at least the events that follow it). Iknow the film is supposedly really faithful to the original but thematerial doesn't quite stand the test of time. What was realistic fortyyears ago wouldn't quite pan out the same way now. This new film wascriticized for glorifying violence (like the original) though and Idon't really think it does. At no time during the film did I think theviolence was 'cool' or enjoyable. It was pretty disturbing in myopinion and really hard to sit through (like violence donerealistically should be). Film, like anything, is completely subjectiveand all about the interpretation of the viewer. I don't think thefilmmakers intended to glorify violence though and I actually thinkthey did a good job with the action scenes. They also did a good job ofdeveloping the David character and exploring his transformation fromwuss to 'man of action' in a very relatable way. As far as horrormovies go I think the whole movie was generally well made as well. Thedirecting was interesting, the score haunting and very fitting and theacting was at least decent (with Marsden being the stand out in myopinion). The film is nasty and ugly and above all disturbing butthat's what good horror should be. It shouldn't be a fun time at themovies (unless it's camp) and I don't think this film was. It works onit's own level.Watch our review show 'MOVIE TALK' at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mlB8eyvpck
Not great but beautiful. A story of a time. Delicate hush. Nostalgicand dramatic. A screenwriter as axis. A sinner as pray. And a younglady for who an error was damnation. The facts may be ingredients forgames, moral lessons or love stories. "Straw Dogs" is one of thatstories.Seductive and childish, beautiful and strange, about price offreedom and food for emotions, romance and thriller, with a spectacularcast, it is precise definition of good and evil and gift for any formof hope. James Marsden is Prometheus of action. Kate Bosworth- thespice. The events are only shadows and the bad boys - cartoons.Not agreat movie but a delicious trip to a lost age. Not a historical pagebut Schindler's list for teenagers. Amovie about a reality and some newimportance Â satisfaction, exaltation Â they hardly knew how to callit.A game.
There's no matching the sinister village faces in Peckinpah's cast or the psychological acuity of his scene-making, but Lurie shows himself man enough for the material.
It's a testament to the power of Straw Dogs' story (Sam Peckinpah'sadaptation of Gordon Williams' novel) that the 2011 remake is stillentertaining despite its numerous shortcomings in both complexity andartistry to its predecessor. Director Rod Lurie's retelling tradesconflicted characters and intricate ideals of bravery and cowardicewith plain-dealing motives and basic revenge; Peckinpah's flair foroperatic visuals is sadly absent. So too is the contemplative nature ofthe whole affair Â the ambiguity and subtleties within everycharacter's actions have been replaced with spoon-fed notions of rightand wrong. It's impossible to avoid comparison to the original film,and doing so would be a disservice to the discerning viewer. Those thatloved Peckinpah's creation will likely find little value in Lurie'sversion, but for those who haven't seen it, the remake does offer ahumble taste of the brilliance you're missing out on.Screenwriter David Sumner (James Marsden) and his wife Amy (KateBosworth) move to her old hometown of Blackwater, Mississippi with thehopes of peace and quiet so he can write his newest script. When Amy'sformer boyfriend Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard) and his buddies Bic(Drew Powell), Chris (Billy Lush), and Norman (Rhys Coiro) are hired torepair the Sumners' garage, the bullying of David and unwelcomeadvances toward Amy begin. As the taunts and threats steadily escalateto a horrific act of violence, David must take a stand and defend hisnew home with an equal force of savagery.Everything questionable, objectionable and controversial about theoriginal Straw Dogs has been finely filtered out, leaving astraightforward, simple revenge story. None of the artistic violence,symbolic editing or jarring music remains. This update goes so far asto spell out the significance of the title, as well as adding the line"maybe you should wear a bra," which drastically dumbs down the purposeof Amy's appearance. If it weren't for the fact that the targetaudience is likely to have no knowledge of the 1971 version'sexistence, this level of defining, dulling and allaying disputatiouscontent would be insulting. Extra references to the predominant themes,such as the inclusion of research on Stalingrad, further add to theintellectual affront.Minor details have changed but the basic ideas are still present. Someof the original dialogue is reused (including snippet jokes that are nolonger relevant), several scenes are nearly identical, a few propsreappear, and even a couple of camera angles pay homage to SamPeckinpah's vision. The competition, power struggle, vigilantism, OfMice and Men subplot, conflict with religion, psychological breakingpoint examination and underdog vengeance aren't forgotten, however, andit's hard not to admire the cathartic power of the hero rising to theoccasion and giving the villains what they so desperately deserve. It'sessentially a two-hour, disturbing, suspenseful build to an explosiveconclusion Â one that abruptly stops when the last antagonist hasfallen. But it's also difficult for Marsden to compete with Hoffman andfor director/screenwriter Rod Lurie to match the originality andcreativity of Peckinpah's turbulent classic.- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)
Writer-director Rod Lurie's remake of the notorious Straw Dogs isn't a terrible movie. It's just not an exceptional one, a liability that increases exponentially with the quality of the original film.
It's a good movie, but not a better remake.
Cerebral David and his pretty wife Amy move to a remote farmhouse inthe rural backwater of Amy's youth so that David can work in peace andquiet. Right from the start there is an uneasy atmosphere deriving fromthe crew of workmen who are repairing the neighbouring barn roof, ledby Charlie, an old flame of Amy's. Amy's provocative dress andbehaviour serve to further inflame the situation, but David is inclinedto avoid confrontation, even going so far as to go hunting with the men(at which point Charlie and another one of the men take the opportunityto rape Amy). However, when David and Amy give shelter to a localretarded man who has killed a precocious teenager, and the girl'sbigwig father leads Charlie and crew to demand his release, Daviddetermines to make a stand.This plot summary is exactly the same for Peckinpah's original movie aswell as this remake: in truth, the mechanics of the story have hardlychanged.But much else has. The move from the autumn chill of rural Cornwall tothe steamy heat of backwater Mississippi makes a massive difference inthe feel of the movie. And, less obviously, 2011 is very different from1971 - yes, Kate Bosworth's sweaty and bra-less jogging T-shirt isindeed provocative but, in the present day, it is far less provocativethan Susan George's coquettish displays of 40 years ago.The character dynamics are different. Alexander Skarsgard's Charlie hasinside him someone who thinks he is good and, perhaps, often tries tobe, as opposed to Del Henney's Charlie, who was simply thuggish. Also,Peter Vaughan's bullying local bigwig is a million miles away fromJames' Wood's Coach who is entertainingly and hysterically psycho,albeit perhaps a little too far in that direction to be whollybelievable. And James Marsden plays the passive side of David well, buthe always strikes you as someone who is far more likely to be able tolook after himself than the diminutive and nerdy Duston Hoffman.What this film does is redecorate the room. It was always a good room,and now it looks different. Not better, not worse, but different.
Sam Peckinpah's 1971 rape-revenge classic "Straw Dogs" was, and stillis, pretty damn controversial, due to its pessimism, violence, theperformance of Dustin Hoffman, and a shocking rape scene. What in theworld makes somebody think they can remake it? Well, someone has doneit, and made it work! Rod Lurie's 2011 remake of "Straw Dogs" gets itright.Screenwriter David Sumner(played by Dustin Hoffman in the original) andhis actress wife, Amy, take a break from the big city life and head toAmy's old town of Blackwater. Her presence is welcomed by most,especially Charlie, her ex-boyfriend. But as soon as David hiresCharlie and his crew to fix their roof at the house, things go wrong.Charlie blasts his radio at the crack of dawn, creating a nuisance forDavid and Amy. Some of the men walk into the house and grab beerswithout permission. And then Amy catches them sexually eye-balling her.David fires Charlie and his crew, but things only get worse. In orderto keep his house and his family safe, David must fight back.2011's "Straw Dogs" is an example of what a remake is supposed to do.Like Cronenberg's "The Fly," Craig Gillespie's "Fright Night," and MattReeves' "Let Me In," Rod Lurie's version of Peckinpah's film sticksvery closely to the original while still doing some new things with it.The first difference between 1971's "Straw Dogs" and the remake is thesetting. Taking it from a British village to a house on the coast ofMississippi, Lurie brings more eeriness to the film than the originaldid. There are no inbred monsters, like in "Deliverance," but therecertainly are creepy locals who we are never quite sure of who theyreally are inside.Another difference is tone. While Peckinpah's film rubbed your face inits graphic content, Lurie allows the audience to experience a morehumanistic and suspenseful approach. He creates a wonderful build-up oftension until things finally take you on the roller-coaster ride youare expecting. There isn't much shown in the rape scene, which makes itall the more effective (the remake trades disquieting ambivalence for arestrained and terrifying assault on the senses).Also, the film doesn't celebrate violence, which is the first thingnegative reviewers have disliked it for. Like the original, it's athinking man's thriller. It's not just a "What would you do?"situation. It's more about the things we don't know about each other,the bad side of ourselves that we never show. Amy thinks David is acoward, but he is really pacifistic. He knows there are other ways tosolve problems. But when his home is invaded, his anti-violent self istested, and is forced into violence. Overall, Lurie carries Peckinpah'spsychological message throughout the remake.The casting is fantastic! Many will go to see "Straw Dogs" because of"True Blood" heartthrob Alexander Skarsgard's performance as Charlie.With a perfect southern accent, Skarsgard is menacing without goingover the top. Like Colin Farrell's performance in the remake of "FrightNight," just a stare can really frighten somebody. James Marsden is notDustin Hoffman, but he is able to step into some pretty big shoes andsurprise people, especially after such comedic films as "Enchanted" and"27 Dresses." I believe in his performance. Kate Bosworth is also greatas Amy. More of a victimized survivalist than a whiny damsel indistress(Susan George's characterization in the original was good, butfar from greatness), Bosworth understands Amy and hits all the rightbuttons. Another awesome performance is given by James Woods as thefootball coach with a seriously bad attitude, drunk or sober.Lurie provides some very good symbolism in his version of the movie, aswell. Using the town's fascination with football as a metaphor fordamage to a human being (physically and emotionally) adds unsettlingdetail to some scenes. And the decision to change David from a troubledmathematician to a screenwriter writing a film about Stalingrad(ametaphor for the film's psychological warfare) is a risk worth taking.Overall, as much as I loved the remake of Wes Craven's "Last House onthe Left," I think those expecting a horror movie with intense gore andnude blonds will be disappointed by "Straw Dogs." Those who want anentertaining, full-throttle psychological thriller with good suspense,the right amount of violence, and nifty performances from the cast willfind it to be an exceptional remake that stands out among otherfailures (ahem, Gus Van Sant's duplicate of "Psycho"). I really enjoyedit!
Still not for the fainthearted, the new Straw Dogs again has something to say about the kind of mob rule seen 80 years ago in Frankenstein (1931). And much of it is not at all pleasant.
If Sam Peckinpah were alive today and read that director Ron Lurie had remade his Straw Dogs, he would have scowled his famous scowl. I knew Sam, and of course no one was like him. He was one of a kind. Lurie is of the masses. He's no Sam; he's Spam.